COVID-19 Patient Care Responses

The School’s pharmacists, health care experts, and student pharmacists continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at all levels, ensuring that hospitalized patients receive the most effective care, aiding in the administration of safe vaccinations, and collecting and analyzing data to improve treatments for tomorrow’s patients.

Last updated December 20, 2021.

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Supporting the front lines of COVID-19 health care

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting an unprecedented strain on our health care system. From providing pharmacist expertise in the ICU to ensuring that all health care providers are provisioned to protect themselves while treating patients and saving lives, the School is working to keep patient care uninterrupted and safe during this crisis.

Collecting and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE)

In cooperation with local pharmacy stores and delivery services, as well as the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), our doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students, as well as staff and faculty from the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, are helping Bay Area hospitals with their personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages by collecting and redistributing PPE.


Donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Media coverage

Push for California to recognize pharmacists as essential frontline health care providers

Thirteen pharmacy school deans, including UCSF’s Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, co-signed a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to declare “pharmacists and licensed intern pharmacists as essential front-line health care providers as part of the COVID-19 emergency declaration.”


B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean, UCSF School of Pharmacy


Pharmacy deans’ letter to Governor Newsom (pdf)

Tracking how the provision of hormonal contraception by pharmacists has changed during the pandemic

A group of three PharmD students interviewed the staff of several pharmacies in San Francisco that have provided hormonal contraception to patients under California’s recently expanded practice rules for pharmacists. They also tracked how demand for these new services has been affected by COVID-19. The team found three practices—administrative support, pharmacist engagement, and advertising—that could be used by other community pharmacies to encourage pharmacists to take part in providing this vital service to patients.


  • Lauren Chen, Class of 2021

  • Julie Lim, Class of 2021

  • Asher Jeong, Class of 2021

  • Dorie E. Apollonio, PhD, Department of Clinical Pharmacy


Implementation of hormonal contraceptive furnishing in San Francisco community pharmacies Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA)

Expanding capacity for patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital

Several licensed pharmacists on the School’s faculty have volunteered to staff the COVID-19-dedicated 6th floor of San Francisco’s Saint Francis Memorial Hospital to provide clinical pharmacy care for COVID-19 patients, if necessary. The team is currently on standby.


Media coverage

Inside Dignity Health’s new COVID-19 unit (San Francisco Business Times)

Collaborative tracking of COVID-19 treatment options

Conan MacDougall authored a paper about the role of the clinical pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also built a mapping tool that tracks hospitals that are participating in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Expanded Use Access program for the antiviral drug, remdesivir.


Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS, Department of Clinical Pharmacy

Papers and online tools

Media coverage

Assisting with poisons and overdoses

The California Poison Control System (CPCS), administered by the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, plays a vital role with resolving poisonings and drug overdoses for the state. During the pandemic, CPCS has fielded increased calls from the public and from health care providers relating to both accidental and intentional exposure to sanitization products. CPCS has also received CARES Act funding that it is using to support staff and infrastructure improvements and to produce video and audio PSAs advising the public about poison prevention strategies.


Stuart Heard, PharmD, executive director, California Poison Control System


California Poison Control System

Evaluating clinical treatments in COVID-19 patients

COVID-19 is a novel disease, but a variety of existing drugs have already been identified as potential treatments. The School has the expertise to validate and optimize any drug or medical device interventions that promise to save lives, and it is actively involved in clinical trials and outcome monitoring of COVID-19 patients at UCSF Health and throughout the Bay Area.

Defining a role for clinical pharmacology in battling COVID-19

Clinical pharmacologists play a critical role in vetting medications for safety and efficacy, translating laboratory studies on pharmacology into the appropriate use of medications in patient populations. Kathy Giacomini co-wrote an editorial for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics outlining the myriad ways in which the field could contribute to the safe and effective rollout of therapies and vaccines for COVID-19 over time.


Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences


COVID-19: A Defining Moment for Clinical Pharmacology? (Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics)

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in COVID-19 treatment

Rada Savic, Erika Wallender, and Francesca Aweeka are combining an understanding of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with all available pharmacological and safety data on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, two drugs under investigation for their effectiveness in treating the disease. The group will also develop a generalizable strategy for drug repurposing in COVID-19 treatment.


Pharmacoepidemiology of COVID-19 at UCSF Health

Faculty members in the UCSF Medication Outcomes Center have begun a yearlong ​pharmacoepidemiology study of COVID-19 patients at UCSF Health. Led by ​Trang Trinh and Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio, the team will evaluate medication use patterns including specific drug classes, such as ACE inhibitors, NSAIDs, and antimicrobials, on COVID-19 patients’ progression and recovery. The objective of this research is to describe their experience managing COVID-19 patients with a focus on medication use and associated costs. She will also compare the management of COVID-19 patients with the management of patients with influenza.



UCSF Medication Outcomes Center

Remdesivir in COVID-19 treatment

Kathy Yang is assisting in numerous studies of remdesivir in COVID-19 treatment occurring at UCSF, including an ACTT trial, compassionate use and expanded access authorizations, and the recent Emergency Use Authorization.


Minimizing adverse drug interactions during COVID-19 treatment

Kathy Giacomini is investigating interactions between potential COVID-19 therapies and other drugs that patients may be prescribed, aiming to identify interactions that clinicians should be aware of when caring for these patients. A laboratory study of 25 small-molecule drug candidates for COVID-19 found that 20 of these compounds were likely to cause drug-drug interactions (DDIs) meriting careful follow-up by the U.S. FDA. Several of these drugs, including sildenafil, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine, were retrospectively associated with DDIs in the electronic health records of 120,000 individuals who underwent treatment for COVID.


Kathy Giacomini, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences


Drugs in COVID-19 Clinical Trials: Predicting Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interactions Using In Vitro Assays and Real-World Data (Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics)

A video summary on the clinical evidence of interferons for COVID-19 treatment

Trang Trinh produced a 20 minute video explaining the pharmacology and clinical evidence of interferons in light of their potential to treat COVID-19. Interferons are proteins produced by the body to activate the immune system ​and "interfere" with viruses that cause infections, such as COVID-19. Interferons are ​also a class of drugs that are used to treat conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and hepatitis C infection.


Trang D. Trinh, PharmD, MPH, Department of Clinical Pharmacy

Video resources

A retrospective look at the cardiac effects of hydroxychloroquine

Isaac Cohen, along with colleagues from around the country, combed through over 66,000 U.S. FDA adverse event reports relating to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, two drugs previously under consideration as treatments of COVID-19, with a focus on cardiac side effects. The research showed that both drugs increase the risk of cardiac adverse events, and the authors suggest that health care providers consider other therapies for COVID-19 in patients predisposed to cardiovascular complications.


Isaac Cohen, PharmD, UCSF Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Postdoctoral Training Program

Pre-print publication

Determinants of cardiac adverse events of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in 20 years of drug safety surveillance reports (medRxiv)